So I have played rangers before and I am tired of nearly always running one of 3 or 4 animal companions and really want another viable choice so I began to modify the Giant Raven for a Druid to be both more realistic and maybe a bit more comparable to the main powerhouse animals. Here is what I have so far:
STR: 14 Dex: 15 Con: 14 Int: 2 Wis: 15 Cha: 9
(I keep the main stats as most of the companions keep the base stats)
Natural AC +1 Speed: 20ft/50ft(Average) Attack: Bite(1d6)
Special Abilities: Scavenger, Low-Light Vision, and Problem Solver
(Problem Solver is on the Switchback Jackal basically it gives a light Disable Device vs traps DC 20 and lower, and also lets them learn one more trick than their Int allows which biologically fits the ravens quite well.)
I moved the advancement to the 7th-Level because it makes the ideas I have a bit easier to swallow balance wise.
Size: Medium (A large raven becomes cumbersome for what I have planned)
STR: +0 Dex: +2 Con: +0 Int: +2 Wis: +0 Cha:+1
(Ravens are extremely smart and adding Int to an animal allows it to do allot but if I follow -http://paizo.com/paizo/blog/v5748dyo5lc1y- it still allows the raven to boost its Int which in real life is around that of a 4 or 5 year old human while keeping him a companion unlike Awaken. The Cha bonus allows it to break even to add a little oomph to intimidation checks for reasons later shown)
Attack: Bite(1d6) (No size bonus no damage increase)
Special Abilities: Improved Problem Solver (Raven gets Disable Device) and Speech (Similar to several other birds real life ravens can talk, and with an Int of 4 it would be one of if not the only animal companion to speak granted it would do so sparingly and poorly)
To me it doesn't seem too crazy or broken it could use more feat but I think utility wise it is a huge improvement. I dont think it has the combat potential of the striker animals most use but does add some nice flavor. What are your guy's opinion?
Uh, you have just created a far better flying mount than any other animal companion. A Str of 14 at level 1 on a medium mount is a HUGE advantage.
And you then deliberately have it NOT become large because that doesn't fit with your plans.
Way, way, way overpowered.
There are, what, over 100 animal companions right now? The Ranger list is restricted for a reason. Creating a companion that
1) exactly fits what you want
2) is more powerful in a specific niche than any existing companion
is over the top. Way over the top.
If your GM is being very, very, very nice they'll maybe let you take an existing Druid companion as a Ranger. That is already a significant power up :-)
I like the idea of an animal companion that is more than just a meatshield / assistant tank, which Problem Solver does interestingly.
There are already a few animal companions that don't change size (Bird, Camel, Horse and Pony, from the core list alone) so that idea has precedent, but I feel like a giant raven already kind of 'got it right' starting Small and growing to Medium at 4th level.
It is strong, for it's size, but there are several stronger (giant assassin bug and giant beetles, for instance, which aren't great fliers, but also the impaler shrike, which is also a medium bird with Str 14 and a slightly faster fly speed, and the giant dragonfly, which is a very agile, if slightly slower, flier with a Str 17 at size Medium...).
Giant Assassin Bug (Str 13 at Small, Str 17 at Medium, fly 30 ft. (clumsy))
Dire Bat (Str 9 at M, Str 17 at L, fly 40 ft. (good))
Giant Beetle (Str 13 at S, Str 17 at M, fly 20 ft. (poor))
Giant Owl (Str 10 at M, Str 18 at L, fly 60 ft. average (good))
Blackwisp Egret (Str 8 at S, Str 13 at L, fly 30 ft. (poor))
Bustard (Str 13 at M, fly 50 ft. (poor))
Giant Dragonfly (Str 13 at S, Str 17 at M, fly 40 ft. (perfect))
Yolubilis Heron (Str 13 at M, Str 21 at L, fly 60 ft. (average))
Giant Locust (Str 12 at S, Str 16 at M, fly 20 ft. (poor))
Giant Mantis (Str 10 at M, Str 18 at L, fly 40 ft. (average))
Giant Mosquito (Str 14 at S, Str 18 at M, fly 60 ft. (good))
Pteranodon (Str 8 at M, Str 16 at L, fly 50 ft. (clumsy))
Quetzalcoutlus (Str 9 at M, Str 17 at L, fly 50 ft. (clumsy))
Giant Raven (Str 8 at S, Str 12 at M, fly 50 ft. (average))
Roc (Str 12 at M, Str 20 at L, fly 80 ft. (average?))
Impaler Shrike (Str 12 at S, Str 14 at M, fly 60 ft. (average))
Giant Vulture (Str 12 at M, Str 20 at L, fly 50 ft. (average))
Giant Wasp (Str 10 at M, Str 18 at L, fly 60 ft. (good))
Ultimately, I'm a fan of doing as little as possible to mess with the core beastie/rules, and I'd recommend just adding Problem Solver and Speak to the Giant Raven-as-companion stats that already exist in Bestiary 6.
This will delay size Medium until your 4th level advancement, and lower Strength and, especially, Constitution, but make only the bare minimum change to the animal companion as written. Making just one or two surgical changes, IMO, is better than trying to reinvent the wheel here.
The intelligence bonus you want to add to the animal (via the growth mechanic) could be readily handled by just choosing to add Intelligence every 4 HD the animal gains, so it would reach Int 3 when you hit 4th level (and it hits 4 HD) and Int 4 when you hit 9th level (and it hits 8 HD), which is pretty close to your target of 4 Int by 7th level.
A GM who is more of a stickler for the level of balance in the book (even if, as the chart above suggests, it's kind of all over the place, with some companions just being flat out superior to others), might go so far as to charge your character, or the companion, a feat for the Problem Solver / Speak additions to your giant raven, but I don't really see it as a balance issue, since the giant raven is hardly one of the better companions (it's not like you're trying to add bells and whistles to a roc, allosaur, big cat or velociraptor or something!).
I like the concept, but will note that it is becoming a little too powerful for a Ranger AC, and more akin to that of your typical Druid, Hunter or the like. That being said, I'd certainly allow it or something similar, perhaps with a feat or trait investment that catalyses the upgrade from Giant Raven to this, and maybe gives it a little extra if it is a feat.
That being said, Rangers are meant to have a more limited list of animal companions, which typically are weaker than many choices available to Druids, which would be my only concern, but of course that doesn't seem to be much of a problem for Paizo's new companion creatures, which as mentioned by Set, are very variable power-wise.
So I will lower the str I do agree it's a little high but I was using the other birds as a base to dictate the stats but I do understand the concern. This is also for a druid, I mentioned ranger just because it's more my normal selection. For physical stat increase at 7 I'll add Dex or switch it to go small then medium start with Ravens base. Side note the reason I'm doing this is while there are like 100 choices some are notoriously better than others big cat, Trex, raptor Dino, and the rhino/elephant things; also side bar there are like 30 Dino's, 10 rhino/elephants so really do I have 100 choices or 40 cuz the duplicates are unreal.